Puppies and dogs locked up – a very real problem
Whether it’s Christmas or confinement, the message that a dog is for life comes from a canine behaviorist who also helps in a rescue center.
Jo de Groot from Cowling helps ‘problem dogs’ solve their fears either in a kennel or as a foster dog in his own home. She obtained a formal qualification in behavior in 2013 and after earning a distinction, she created her own behavioral practice – Anydog Canine Behavior Solutions – in 2015.
She explained: “I was living in the South East at that time, but eventually the call from home brought me back to Yorkshire and Cowling where I have lived since 2016. I myself have five dogs who are all came to me because of behavioral issues. . They are a mixed group – Greyhound, GSD x Husky, Collie, Miorotic Shepherd and a short, long-bodied guy of “who knows” offspring.
“I volunteer with Keighley-based Aireworth Dogs in Need. Wellness and Rescue have always been important to me and I am one of their professional behaviorists. I also have degrees in Dog First Aid, Puppy Care and Dog Law in the UK.
Jo said Covid has created many new words in our vocabulary, but for her the ones she dreads hearing are ‘lock dog’.
She added: “The lockdown meant many people were working from home or were on leave, and for the first time many families were able to own a dog. People came out by the thousands to find one. Puppy sales and prices have skyrocketed. Purebred puppies that previously sold for £ 800 are now changing hands for more than double. Rescues were inundated with people searching for a dog. Any dog would do.
“Make no mistake, I fully understand the thought process behind this. Many of us would have liked to own a dog in the past, but professional commitments prevented us from doing so. Covid has caused fear and depression for many. A dog seemed like a good solution: company, long walks in the spring sun, entertainment for the children.
So what went wrong? Jo added: “Life has returned to a kind of normalcy, and what seemed like a good idea at the time, unfortunately became some people’s worst nightmare. The dog who was a happy member of the family now faces long periods of time at home alone and likely less exercise. This also in the case of confined puppies coincided with their adolescent stage, which in itself can lead to behavioral problems.
“So come into the ‘separation anxiety’ room. We’ve all heard of it and probably a lot of people have some understanding of the term. Dogs thrive on routine, the dog who had 24/7 human company and probably lots of volunteer walkers is now thrown into a whole different situation. Dogs will create coping strategies for their new stressful circumstances, the most common of which are barking, destructive behavior, messing up, and loss of appetite. It’s not hard to see why, but with understanding and training they can be helped to overcome this, but there is no quick fix, it will take patience and time to help a dog. to adapt. The RSPCA estimates that 85% of locked up dogs suffer from separation anxiety.
“People are now faced with what they see as a ‘problem dog’. If you decide you really can’t meet your dog’s needs, rescue is usually the safest option, but he’s overwhelmed by a tsunami of owner surrender demands. Vets are asked to euthanize healthy dogs weekly because owner can no longer cope and after speaking to one recently she said she is questioning her career, that’s not why that she trained. Make no mistake, the mental impact on a veterinarian tasked with regularly destroying healthy young dogs is devastating.
Caroline Porter, president of Aireworth Dogs in Need, said they too had seen the results of the “lock dogs” and had to close their doors to new admissions because they had nowhere to go for the pets. company. After the number of dogs entering the rescue slowed in 2020 and 2021, people were able to care for them; later in 2021, the inevitable happened.
She said, “The backlash from those people who rushed to get a dog in response to their new situation no longer had the time or commitment to offer that dog. As soon as the confinement ended in April 2021, we began to see our requests for admission soar. We started to notice trends. We have been asked to take dogs that are much younger than normal. Traditionally, we were rarely asked to take puppies, but we started to see several requests for dogs between the ages of six months to two years, the majority with “behavior” or health issues.
“We have noticed that a lot of these dogs were bought very young, taken from their mothers too early by breeders who were more focused on money than on welfare. The same people who begged us for a dog in the spring of 2020 were now begging us to take their dogs. The children who had been alone were now back to school.
“So the dogs poured in, with tremendous pressure on the charity to fund the vet or the behavioral treatment needed to prepare the dog for a safe placement. Our veterinary and behaviorist costs for the past year have been £ 67,000, a significant increase over previous years. ”
Jo concluded, “So what can we do? First, dog owners are looking for professional help for your dog, we don’t think we respect you for doing the right thing. Volunteering for your local rescue is something we can all do in one way or another. Sponsorship, home verification, fundraising, administrative support, cross-posting. All of this can lead a dog to find a home forever and in turn free up space for another dog in need of rescue.
“One day the term ‘containment dog’ will be redundant but until then we have to help find a solution for these dogs, they did not ask for it and are as much victims of Covid as humans. ”